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November 24, 2022

BRL SLM S19 R9 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

19 November 2022
Bootleg Racing League | Season 19 | Round 9
Super Late Model Series | Hickory Motor Speedway
Sim Racing Software: iRacing

J R Shepherd with Different Path Motorsports took the checkered flag tonight in the Bootleg Racing League Super Late Model Series at Hickory Motor Speedway ahead of Justin Morton and Jeffrey Hardin. “Hickory’s one of those tracks that’s extremely line sensitive and the outside lane just does not have much grip at all so everybody’s trying to fight and get down to the bottom and there was a lot of door to door contact for sure”, Shepherd commented at the crew loaded his car up for the night, “Rough night trying to come through the field, just trying to keep it clean and surprised we were able to get up there to be honest with you.”

J R Shepherd sat on top of the timing and scoring boards with his fast 4-lap average time in qualifying at 13.940 and started the evening in 10th due to the grid invert. Donny Moore had the pole position and led the 16-car field to take the green with Jeffrey Hardin to his outside. Moore had a strong jump and quickly cleared out ahead as Hardin slotted down ahead of Adam Schoen to hold onto 2nd place. The field was scrambling to get down to the inside line in the opening laps to prevent being shuffled to the back of the field.

With 10 laps behind them, there was very little movement throughout the field with everyone choosing to run single file as the track split into 2 packs with a gap building behind Michael Goodman in 11th. Mathew Thunhorst was holding onto 7th with Shepherd and Justin Morton directly behind him and was patiently waiting for opportunities rather than push Tim Shinoski ahead of him. A brief checkup ahead of them pushed Shinoski high to avoid contact with Joseph Snyder giving Thunhorst the opening he needed to move forward with Shinoski falling back to 9th behind Morton going into lap 25.

Snyder tried to get his nose beneath Chris Davis for 4th, but Davis shut the door and the 2 drivers came together. Bouncing off each other’s door straighten both drivers back out without losing position. Thunhorst found himself stuck on the outside of Shepherd and quickly started falling back through the field before slotting back in line in 8th. Shepherd was up to 4th with Morton still directly behind him and Thunhorst quickly got around Shinoski and back to the rear bumper of Morton.

Going into lap 40, Moore and Hardin had broken away from Davis in 3rd and Hardin was starting to pressure Moore for the lead. Shepherd quickly got to the inside of Davis stranding Davis to the outside as Morton and Thunhorst cleared around him. Davis fought back when Shinoski tried to follow Thunhorst through and was able to clear back ahead of him to hold onto 6th place. Approaching the 2nd half of the night, Davis had to check up on corner exit and Shinoski caught the rear of him sending himself around and collecting Rubin Altice bringing out the caution.

Moore continued to lead the field as the green flag came back out, but Shepherd started from 3rd directly behind them. Hardin tried to prevent being stuck out on the outside and went for the lead along the outside. After a few laps, Hardin realized the move wasn’t going to work and tried to slot in behind Moore but made contact with Shepherd to his inside. Shepherd checked up abruptly letting Hardin in causing Thunhorst to go high to avoid contact. Thunhorst was quickly shuffled far back into the field as a train of cars went by to his inside before he could get back down in 11th place.

Thunhorst was aggressively pushing up through the field making up any positions he could going into the last 30 laps quickly jumping up to 9th as Shepherd cleared around Hardin for 2nd. Going into lap 81, Shepherd beat Moore around turn four and took the lead with Morton still holding in 4th. Thunhorst was having more trouble trying to push through traffic and after making contact with Snyder made the decision to retire early bringing his car straight to the trailer essentially forfeiting his run for the points championship as his competitors ran 1st and 2nd in the field with 10 laps remaining.

Shepherd and Morton ran side by side around the final laps with neither driver willing to concede. Shepherd had a strong enough run out of turn 2 to clear ahead of Morton down the back stretch with Hardin holding 3rd. Coming out of the last corner, J R Shepherd took the checkered flag with Justin Morton, Jeffrey Hardin, Chris Daivs, and Michael Goodman rounding out the top 5 tonight at Hickory Motor Speedway.

J R Shepherd has a strong lead in the point standings after his win tonight with 418 points. Mathew Thunhorst holds onto 2nd place after a rough night with 395 points over Justin Morton with 388 points. Joseph Snyder holds onto 4th with 296 points and Donny Moore rounds out the top 5 with 290 points. After the Thanksgiving holiday, the drivers of the Bootleg Racing League head out to South Boston Speedway for the 10th round of Season 19 on December 3rd with all of the action broadcast live at 9PM ET exclusively on the Virtual Grip Network!

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